Here’s What You Need to Know from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2018

The Top Trends for Communicators

Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends presentation was released this week. As always, the deck contains exciting implications for the future of communications and technology. These are the trends that we think will have a major impact on digital strategies in 2018.

1) Voice search — and content created for voice search — is on the rise.

Amazon Echo added over 10 million users just in Q4 of 2017, and it’s only one of the many smart speakers on the market today. In Q1 of 2018, Google Home sales actually topped sales of Amazon’s smart speakers.

But, don’t build an Alexa skill or a Google Voice app just yet. The most important step for most organizations is to make sure your content is voice-search friendly. For example, frame content to mirror the questions audiences would ask about your brand, like “How do I do _________?” or “When is ___________?” This will increase the reach of your content not only on smart speakers, but also on mobile voice search and search engines.

2) Mobile video viewing is increasing, and changing our viewing behaviors.

Audiences are expected to spend at least 30 minutes a day viewing online video in 2018, and YouTube alone has over 1.8 million monthly viewers.

Organizations should monitor two trends: the rise of educational videos and Twitch, a livestreaming platform.

Skill-building videos are an opportunity to build credibility with new audiences. There were over 1 billion daily learning video views in 2017. Brands can take a formal approach by creating content for educational platforms like Khan Academy and TEDEd, or they can create short tutorials that travel well on social, like BuzzFeed’s Tasty series.

Organizations should also follow brands that are experimenting on Twitch. The platform originated as a livestreaming venue for e-sports, but it’s gaining audience share and developing content with companies like Disney.

Early adopters, like BuzzFeed and The Washington Post, are experimenting with what’s possible for brands and publishers. The platform has a low barrier to entry and is new enough that curious publishers could test content without wasting too much time or resources. Brands that are trying to reach a younger audience could also consider sponsoring a Twitch emote, the platform’s version of an emoji.

3) Advertising costs on digital platforms are rising, but clicks aren’t keeping pace.

Engagement on Facebook advertisements is still rising, but advertising costs are rising at a faster rate than reach.

The difficulty of converting online audiences means that organizations are searching for more meaningful engagement metrics than page views or clicks. Publishers — including The Atlantic — now measure audience members’ lifetime value: “the amount of revenue a company expects to generate from a customer over the life of their business relationship,” according to Digiday. Twenty-seven percent of businesses said customer lifetime value was an important ad spending metric in a Salesforce Digital Advertising survey Meeker featured.

4) Digital natives are seeking local, real world connections.

Audiences are using online platforms to find local information at a higher rate than ever before. This means organizations — even at the national level — should get involved locally.

Google saw a 900 percent increase in queries containing “near me” between 2015 and 2017.

In that same period, Nextdoor, the social network for neighborhoods, added over 100,000 communities to its platform.

As a first step, make sure local branches are findable on search and social. This doesn’t mean local headquarters need to have their own Facebook page, but they should be listed in online directories.

Some companies are taking local outreach even further by starting community belonging initiatives: Think cooking classes at Whole Foods or iPhone photo walks at Apple stores.

If you’re looking for more on the latest trends in media and how they apply to your organization, sign up for Atlantic 57’s weekly newsletter, the Digital Trends Index.